MVA begins investigation into slain man's impostor

July 27, 1994|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer

Investigators will question a state Motor Vehicle Administration clerk today about the renewal of a driver's license in January for a man who assumed the identity of John Kenneth Temple, who was slain Dec. 3 with his wife in their Parkville apartment.

Charles Demby, an MVA criminal investigator, said he is working with Baltimore County homicide detectives "to catch this guy the best way we can." That will involve questioning the clerk about nTC the identification the impostor presented for the license renewal Jan. 29.

"We're trying to find out what identification was used," Mr. Demby said, "and if an employee assisted in this." Equally, the investigator said, he wants to prove that the clerk was innocent of criminal involvement in issuing the fraudulent license.

The bodies of Mr. Temple, 26, and his wife, Lori, 22, were found bound with duct tape and their throats cut. The killings shocked the quiet neighborhood around the Taylor Park East Apartments, off Taylor Avenue.

The impostor began operating within weeks, when a man closely resembling Mr. Temple -- in his 20s, thin, with black hair and a mustache -- tried to register to vote in Baltimore and Baltimore County using the victim's name and birth date and did obtain the license.

The Temple family was unable yesterday to identify the man in the photograph from the MVA's copy of the phony license, but employees of the county Election Board said it was the same man who tried to register as a voter in January and in March. "We recognized him immediately, no problem," said board administrator Doris J. Suter.

Detectives also were showing the photograph to other relatives and to friends of the couple on the theory the impostor at least was an acquaintance because he knows personal details about Mr. Temple.

Investigators are trying to learn what other credentials the impostor might have obtained in Mr. Temple's name, including credit cards.

Whether the impostor is implicated in the Temple killings or is simply trying to create a fake identity using the dead man's name isn't known, but MVA spokesman James P. Lang said his scheme is obvious:

"The man is trying to build up a whole identity as one document begets another," Mr. Lang said. "He is going from one credential that everyone has to another that everyone has and tries to squeak by."

A birth certificate is the basic identification document "and if you get a person who is good at fraud, the easiest thing to get is a birth certificate," said Mr. Demby.

But Daniel A. Hughes, director of the General Services Administration of the State Health Department, which oversees the Bureau of Vital Statistics, said he found no record of anyone trying to obtain a copy of Mr. Temple's birth certificate.

It is not known what identification the man presented for the driver's license because the original license-renewal application was destroyed once the required information was computerized.

The impostor could not have used Mr. Temple's old license because police had returned that to the family after the slayings. John J. Temple, the dead man's father, said he turned the license in to MVA headquarters in Glen Burnie. He was allowed to keep the photograph.

However, the man apparently had enough proof to satisfy security measures the MVA installed in reaction to Dontay Carter, the teen-age killer who easily obtained a replacement driver's license in the name of the 37-year-old man he murdered in 1992, even though Carter is black and his victim was white.

Among the most important changes in the MVA system is the computerized retention of a digital image of the licensee's photograph and signature. Mr. Demby and the county police are using that photograph.

Mr. Demby said he could not release the photograph because the murder investigation has priority and the decision rests with county police, who said they may release the picture today.

The signature on the false license did not match examples of Mr. Temple's signature, but does match those on applications the impostor filled out when he tried to register as a voter, , Mr. Demby said.

He said he checked the number of the fraudulent license against recent automobile registrations to see if the impostor has registered a vehicle. But none was found.

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